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Posts Tagged ‘The Mote and the Beam’

Well-adjusted people realize that words have different meanings in different contexts.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Mary Magdalene 

No, it isn’t “orthodoxy” that Mary Magdalene was a whore; quite the opposite, in fact:

A new film about Mary Magdalene sets out to refute the commonly held assumption that she was a prostitute redeemed by Christ…A new film, though, flips the script to show Mary in a new light – as an independent free-thinker who…deserves to be considered as an apostle in her own right…This is deeply contentious territory that flies in the face of the commonly accepted orthodoxy that Mary of Magdala was a prostitute…It is a notion that has been perpetuated for centuries – partly thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber, who had Mary sing about the “many men” she’s “had” in Jesus Christ Superstar…Put all the evidence together and it is easy to conclude that Mary has been the victim of 1,400 years’ worth of character assassination…

Critic Neil Smith’s madonna-whore complex is on full display here; portraying Mary as an “independent free-thinker” is supportive of the idea she was a harlot.  Before the advent of the currently-fashionable “victim” nonsense, we were always seen as independent, uppity women who won’t mind our “place”; in fact, that’s exactly why patriarchal religions dislike us.  But then, I guess we couldn’t expect much from a mind that thinks it makes sense to blame Jesus Christ Superstar (recorded October 1970) for a 1400-year-old tradition.

The Truth About “The Truth About…”

Another of those nonexistent false sexual assault accusations:

Thomas Mowbray didn’t even know Eboni Sanders.  They both lived [in Pittsburgh, PA] in the same…building…In early February 2016, they ran into each other in the laundry room.  Mr. Mowbray claims Ms. Sanders came on to him and that he declined…Twelve days after that, Pittsburgh police charged Mr. Mowbray with indecent assault after Ms. Sanders claimed that he had groped her…The charges marked the beginning of a nightmarish two years in the criminal justice system for Mr. Mowbray…and his girlfriend, Patrese Thompson …Over that time, Pittsburgh police filed six criminal cases against Mr. Mowbray and two against Ms. Thompson — all based on shocking allegations made by Ms. Sanders of gun-toting assailants, assaults, threatening letters and phone calls, stalking, contract killings and knife-wielding attacks…Mowbray spent more than six months in jail.  But on Feb. 22, the last of the cases was withdrawn by…prosecutors.  Police had finally [accepted] what the couple had long insisted — that Ms. Sanders was lying.  Now she is the one facing criminal charges.  “For two years of our lives, this woman has been using the criminal justice system to terrorize us,” Ms. Thompson said…

Too Close To Home

Everyone harmed by prostitution laws needs to keep suing over them:

Three men arrested in a 2016 prostitution sting in Bellevue are suing King County and Bellevue police for defamation, [explaining that] officials exaggerated their crimes to satisfy a private foundation that provided a grant for the [pogrom]…Keith Emmanuel, Richard Homchick, and Charles Peters…were only charged with second-degree promoting prostitution during the sweep…However, during press conferences and other public appearances, Bellevue Chief Steve Mylett, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, and former sheriff John Urquhart made statements that made it seem like the three men had engaged in crimes like rape and human trafficking…Those statements were made, the suit alleges, to satisfy Demand Abolition…[billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt’s] foundation that had given the county a grant to [harass sex workers] and [persecute clients].  Demand Abolition gave the prosecutor’s office a $50,000 grant in 2014…and has continued to give grants each year since.  “Defendants have deliberately conflated that prostitution charge with human trafficking and sex slavery as part of a concerted plan to secure private funding by generating publicity and manipulating media coverage of the arrests,” the suit [states]…To keep the grant, the prosecutor’s office had to meet performance targets…increasing the arrests of [men] by 50 percent…

Full of Themselves (#614)

California produces the most horrifying and racist anti-massage-parlor propaganda, hands down:

Doug Bennett, the founder of Magdalene Hope, a [prohibitionist group]…and his [gang] of [busybodies]…[literally spy on Asian-owned massage businesses,] spending their evenings watching the parlors, [stalking] masseuses after they leave and gathering evidence to pass on to the…[cops]…Massage parlors have been [dysphemized as] “modern-day brothels” and “prostitution rings.”  They are [fantasized] by [“trafficking” fetishists] to be storefronts for a complex network of human traffickers shuffling victims throughout the region, multiple [conspiracy theorists, pigs, white supremacists]…and [other tinfoil-hat wearers] said on and off the record…

Naturally, the California Massage Therapy Council is quoted.  Don’t miss the part about how Bennett and his cronies pray together before literally stalking women late at night, and be sure to click on that link in the first line for a look at one of “Magdalene Hope’s” hilariously-bad propaganda ads.

The Widening Gyre (#663)

What hysteria about “crime” in Italy would be complete without bringing in the Mafia?  This lurid, self-righteous mess should serve as a warning to clients to be careful which “journalists” they talk to; this unethical, pompous fantasist fully admits that the only reason she didn’t out a man she interviewed, despite her promise that she wouldn’t, was that he had a wife and children.  Yet she clearly sees herself as moral while the women who honestly sell sex and keep their clients’ confidences are “degraded victims” and the clients who enable them to earn a living are “rapists” who “keep this lurid business of sex slavery alive”.

Opting Out (#700)

“At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots”:

Twitter and other social media companies have so far refused to engage with the government’s plans to introduce age checks to limit underage access to online pornography…Lord Erroll…who chairs the Digital Policy Alliance (DPA)…admitted the ultimate sanction intended for sites that fail to implement AV is unlikely to be applied to Twitter.  Unlike Instagram and Facebook, Twitter has no rules against the posting of sexually explicit material and hosts many accounts that promote publishers and stars of pornography.  “The challenge with that is if you block Twitter, people will just say this is an overreaction, it’s mad, and it would not go down well in public,” Erroll said…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#737)

India’s pigheaded resistance to decriminalization continues:

On February 28…the Union cabinet approved the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018…[it] falls into the familiar trap of trying to use criminal law to solve a social problem.  The IPC already criminalises trafficking…The new Bill introduces 15 new offences on top of this, and introduces numerous…ambigu[ous]…clauses…[which] unfairly target…marginalised actors and rely…heavily on criminalisation…It only creates further confusion by introducing existing offences in the new packaging of “aggravated offences”, adding more layers of bureaucracy and complicating enforcement…The Bill…relies on the raid, rescue and rehabilitation model, which…is nothing but victim detention, resulting in the complete loss of liberty for an adult woman.  The rehabilitation process disregards the wishes and choices of the “rescued” person, especially sex workers.  Such a paternalistic approach…ignores the agency of adult women to determine what is good for them…

Torture Chamber (#770) 

The state wants us to call these subhuman monsters “correctional officers”:

Jailhouse video reveals California sheriff’s deputies watching and sometimes laughing as a schizophrenic man who had been strapped naked to a chair for 46 hours writhes on the floor of his cell, loses consciousness and eventually dies…the county [was forced to pay Andrew] Holland’s family $5 million for his death, which a medical examiner determined was caused by a pulmonary embolism…[directly caused by] the [inhumane] restraint chair…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#811)

What terrible “crimes” these “gangsters” are accused of:  not paying licenses.  Assisting migrants.  Illegally subdividing a building.  Doing their employees’ laundry.  The fiends!

A triad-controlled prostitution racket that brought sex workers from Europe, Asia and mainland China into Hong Kong has been broken up in one of the city’s biggest anti-vice crackdowns with the arrest of 75 people…the syndicate had turned 72 subdivided flats into one-woman brothels…four vice establishments and unlicensed massage centres in the same district were also controlled by the gang…the syndicate had its own laundry centre…and supplied towels to sex workers…police arrested 14 men and 61 women…

Overdue

“Fainting-couch feminism” is a brilliant coinage:

…[Massachusetts politician] Michelle DuBois…has been calling for the removal of a statehouse sign that reads “General Hooker Entrance” (so inscribed because it stands opposite a statue of [US Civil War] General Hooker), which she described as an affront to “women’s dignity”…If that isn’t the ultimate in futile, fainting-couch feminism, I’m not sure what is…attitudes like hers—which treat women as excessively fragile beings, and which posit that female “dignity” is diminished by even so slight an association with sex work as walking under a door that says “hooker”—just props up old-fashioned and patriarchal ideas about sex and gender…

Cops and Robbers (#813)

As I surmised, this sleazy attempt to hurt sex workers’ income is bankrolled by billionaire sociopath Swanee Hunt:

[Pigs trying to harm sex workers] are using cyber-based “patrols” to [harass potential clients]…[in] Los Angeles…Working in partnership with Demand Abolition, a [vanity project] focused on eradicating [sex workers]…sheriff’s deputies post ads to make contact with would-be buyers.  Once phone contact is made, detectives identify themselves as members of the [vice squad]…advise the caller that solicitation is a crime and offer referrals to sex addiction treatment.  Investigators also use electronic “bots” to send [propaganda] text messages to buyers…During the first month of operations this year, nearly 1,900 conversations took place with potential sex buyers which prompted more than 30,000 text warnings designed to disrupt [sex workers’ business]…

Guinea Pigs (#818) 

Every New Orleanian knows that cockroaches can’t stand sunlight:

[After] The Verge reported the existence of a six-year predictive policing collaboration between the New Orleans Police Department and Palantir Technologies…which…was unknown to the public and key members of the city council prior to publication…outgoing…Mayor Mitch Landrieu…[said] his office would not renew its pro bono contract with Palantir, which has been extended three times since 2012…The mayor did not respond to repeated requests for comment from…media since news of the partnership broke.  There is also potential legal fallout from the revelation…[which was not included in] discovery evidence [for a number of criminal trials]…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

When an incredibly bad law skates through a legislature, follow the money:

FOSTA…offer[s] a powerful incentive for online platforms to police the speech of users and advertisers.  A perceived violation of a state’s anti-trafficking laws could lead to authorities seeking civil or criminal penalties, or a barrage of lawsuits.  So, why are movie studios involved at all in this debate?  Hollywood is lobbying for laws that will force online intermediaries to shut down user speech.  That’s what they’ve been seeking since practically the beginning of the Internet…For legacy software and entertainment companies, breaking down [Section 230] is another road to a controlled, filtered Internet—one that looks a lot like cable television.  Without safe harbors, the Internet will be a poorer place—less free for new ideas and new business models.  That suits some of the gatekeepers of the pre-Internet era just fine…An Internet that’s policed by “copyright bots” is what major film studios and record have advocated for more than a decade now…

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Forbidding the promotion of prostitution on the Internet…would be “to burn the house to roast the pig.”  –  Alex F. Levy

Unless you were overseas, deeply inebriated or in a coma for the past two days, I’m sure you’ve heard that the massive internet censorship bill known as FOSTA passed the US Senate Wednesday as unanimously as bad laws based on moral panic always do; all it lacks is Trump’s signature to become law, and unless he pulls one of his bizarre reversals that’s pretty much a given.  The law is so blatantly unconstitutional (on several grounds, including flagrant violations of the first and tenth amendments, and article 1’s ban on ex post facto laws) that even the DoJ (which never saw an expansion of federal power it didn’t like) recognizes that, and it will indubitably be challenged as soon as it hits the ground; unless the judge who hears that challenge is some kind of incompetent lunatic he’ll issue an injunction against enforcing it until the case is settled, which could take years.  But that doesn’t mean we can relax; the big businesses which control the internet are so risk-averse many of them are unlikely to wait for the outcome of that ruling, and will simply start pre-emptively censoring sex work content as Reddit already has:

Sometime around 2 a.m. [yesterday], Reddit banned several long-running sex worker forums from the platform.  The move comes just hours after the Senate passed a bill making digital facilitation of prostitution a federal crime.  Under the new law, social media sites and other hubs of user-generated content can be held criminally liable…Even if individuals aren’t targeted by law enforcement for placing ads, and even if individual cases brought by state prosecutors are struck down as unconstitutional, a lot of platforms will preemptively ban anything remotely related to sex work rather than risk it.  So far, four subreddits related to sex have banned:  Escorts, Male Escorts, Hookers, and SugarDaddy. None were what could accurately be described as advertising forums…The escort forums were largely used by sex workers to communicate with one another…

Craigslist followed last night, removing its US personals ad section and posting this apology:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.  Any tool or service can be misused.  We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline.  Hopefully we can bring them back some day.  To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I and many others have explained why this law is so uniquely awful, but let’s just sum it up once more:

  1. It allows US government censorship of the entire internet, destroys social media in all but the most neutered form, and creates a de facto internet cartel controlled entirely by the wealthiest and most powerful media corporations;
  2. It criminalizes all sex work advertising and creates a new federal prostitution crime;
  3. It allows both ambitious DAs and greedy opportunists to attack any internet entity with either criminal charges or civil suits for activity that was perfectly legal when it occurred.

Even if you aren’t a sex worker or civil libertarian, you should be able to see the issues with this, and so should all of the politicians who voted for it, who are guilty of nothing short of criminal incompetence:

Notre Dame law instructor Alex F. Levy:

The law relies on the unsubstantiated idea that reducing prostitution will reduce trafficking.  Indeed, the legislative report defends the regulation by proclaiming, without citation, that “[p]rostitution and sex trafficking are inextricably linked, and where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery”…But the claim that legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution leads to sex trafficking is widely controverted by scholars…Congress does not even inquire into the basic reliability of the premise that undergirds this sweeping content-based speech restriction…it…restricts Constitutionally protected speech, yet fails under both strict and intermediate scrutiny standards.  It is unconstitutional and should not be passed into law…

Tech law journalist Mike Masnick:

…Senator Richard Blumenthal — who has spent years attacking the internet, and who has already stated that if SESTA kills small internet businesses he would consider that a good thing…sent out a letter…[in which] almost everything stated…is 100% factually wrong…so wrong that it raises serious questions about whether Blumenthal understands some fairly fundamental issues in the bill he’s backing.  Professor Eric Goldman has a pretty concise explanation of everything that’s wrong with the statement, noting that it…shows that SESTA’s main sponsors don’t even understand the very basic aspects of CDA 230…you have to start wondering what the hell is happening in the Senate, and in particular in Senator Blumenthal’s office.  He is not just doing a big thing badly — he is gleefully spouting the exact opposite of basic facts about both the existing law, and the bill he sponsored.  I know that politicians aren’t exactly known for their honesty, but he seems to be taking this to new levels…

Even economist Scott Cunningham, whom I’ve castigated more than once for not grasping basic facts about the demimonde, sure understands this one:

…This bill claims to be all about sex trafficking, but it seems to have a deep ignorance about how these markets work and a deep ignorance about the benefits of these technologies.  The people who support it don’t know about the client screening, they don’t know about the movement indoors and they don’t know that women are using these online platforms in order to avoid danger.  They don’t know or they don’t care…

Though Cunningham is perhaps being cautious and/or polite in his last statement, I think it’s pretty obvious that the latter clause is far more likely than the former.  Don’t you?

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[The sex] industry is filled with strong, smart, very business-savvy women.  –  Lynn Comella

The Notorious Badge 

Though the headline links this to Stormy Daniels’ current newsworthiness, it’s actually a brief look at women in porn:

Thomas…Edison’s 1896 creation capturing [actress May] Irwin and actor John C. Rice doing something naughty caused a nationwide uproar as newspaper editorials declared the end of American morality and called for police action in theaters that dared to show the 18-second flick…“The Kiss” is now part of the Library of Congress’s catalogue…By today’s standards, of course, May Irwin wouldn’t qualify as a porn star.  A vaudeville actress, she channeled the infamy of “The Kiss” into a lucrative stage and silent film career…Gloria Leonard started out as a bond trader on Wall Street in the 1960s.  She left to go into public relations, then jumped to a film company that went under in 1974.  She was an unemployed, single mom when she decided to give acting a shot…the first role she snagged in 1974 was in a porn flick…that…led to a 10-year career in front of the camera, until she became a director, then editor of a nudie magazine.  There, she came up with an idea to increase circulation by teasing upcoming features with recordings in sultry voices…and the phone sex industry was born…Annie Sprinkle, who had her first experience with porn as a ticket-taker at a Tucson, theater showing Deep Throat in 1972, became a top-grossing actress in the 1980s…she turned the industry upside-down with her gonzo, feminist take on porn.  She produced educational videos and held workshops and created porn for women…“Porn is one place where women — the performers — get paid more, double, even triple what men are paid”…

Dirty Laundry

Your periodic reminder of the evil, psychopathic behavior of the organizations behind prohibitionist group Ruhama:

A survivor of the Magdalene laundries who bore a daughter after being raped by a priest…still bears the emotional and physical scars of the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of sadistic nuns more than 70 years ago.  Mary Merritt…now aged 87, was born in a Dublin workhouse and never met her mother.  She was sent to a Sisters of Mercy orphanage…at the age of two for 14 years where she was whipped by a nun across the hips and back for no reason…But that was nothing compared to the horrors awaiting her when she turned 16 and was sent to the High Park Magdalene laundry for stealing apples.  Aside from working as a virtual slave, she was left blind in her right eye from the toxic material in the laundries and was later raped by a priest after trying to run away…she was stripped of all dignity – even her name – before learning she was pregnant with the priest’s child.  After giving birth to her daughter at the age of 23, she was sent to St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home…for a year where she was granted just half an hour a day to see her daughter…She was then sent back to the Magdalene laundry…where…her daughter [was] adopted out without her permission while she worked as a virtual slave for another three years…She eventually managed to track down her daughter Carmel 40 years after she was born…

Torture Chamber

Just in case you thought screws restricted their petty sadism to the prisoners:

A transgender woman who tried to visit her incarcerated brother [reports] Louisiana prison [guards] ordered her to remove her underwear and told her she would have to reveal her genitalia before she could leave the facility.  The woman…says in a lawsuit filed [last week] that [screws] insisted on searching her vehicle after she refused to remove her pants and underwear…The suit says guards stopped China from entering the…prison last September after a body screening machine detected an “unknown object” in her pants…

Broken Record (#708) 

Quite possibly the stupidest “sex trafficking” story of the year so far:

“Young women are historically vulnerable to sexual…exploitation as a part of…spring break”…[fantasized] Haley Halverson…[of] the National Center on Sexual Exploitation…“Some young women could even fall prey to sex traffickers in this environment.”  It’s also important to recognize that male spring breakers who participate in the commercial sex industry, whether that’s strip clubs or purchasing people in prostitution, could be perpetuating the modern-day sexual slavery market…“The conditions surrounding spring break — such as a large influx of males, the celebratory atmosphere, high alcohol consumption, and having money to spend — can create an increased demand for sex trafficking,” she [fantasized].  “[Propaganda] from [Dominique “Body Fluids” Sepowitz at] the Arizona School of Social Work [claimed] that any large event…becomes a desirable location for a sex trafficker to bring their victims”…

Most 10-to-a-room frat boys can’t even afford to hire a hooker for an hour, much less “purchase a person” (which would run into the tens of thousands, all factors considered).  And if all those girls are supposedly being “pressured” into giving sex away, how the hell is anybody supposed to sell it there?  Illogic doesn’t just run through this story; it gallops.

The Widening Gyre (#786)

There’s a xenophobic stink of the “blood libel” about this story and its treatment:

Up to 1,000 children could have suffered in Britain’s worst known abuse scandal…The rape hell of vulnerable young girls in one town – Telford – went on for a shocking 40 years…Girls as young as 11 have been lured from their families to be drugged, beaten and raped in an epidemic that, say victims, is still ongoing…Despite similar high-profile cases in Rochdale and Rotherham, authorities in Telford ­repeatedly failed to stamp out a network of abusers…Council staff viewed abused and trafficked children as “prostitutes” instead of victims…Authorities failed to keep details of abusers from Asian communities for fear of “racism”…

Opting Out (#810) 

UK politicians aren’t happy that people see their surveillance scheme for what it is:

The UK Government is to delay the introduction of age checks for pornographic websites…to the end of 2018.  The move has been welcomed by privacy campaigners who claim such a process would be an infringement of personal data…[which] would risk personal information being hacked and leaked, such as who watches gay porn and lesbian porn…[anti-censorship lawyer] Myles Jackman…said the delay was an admission that ministers had failed to understand the implications of the age capture…“the privacy risk was so severe that if all that data were hacked they would never be taken seriously again when it came to holding private citizens’ data, whether covertly or otherwise”…

Sex Workers Against Trafficking (#812)

If every “anti-trafficking” organization were like GAATW, there would be no “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Workers and workers association in different sectors, such as domestic work, fisheries or agriculture, are considered the experts in reducing exploitation and trafficking in their industry.  However, when it comes to the sex industry, sex workers and the organisations working with them, are rarely consulted in the development of anti-trafficking measures.  As a result, the anti-trafficking community has alienated a crucial ally that can dramatically improve efforts to prevent trafficking and identify cases of trafficking in the sex industry…the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women…conducted  research which documented the strategies that sex worker organisations employ to prevent and address violence, coercion and exploitation in the sex industry, including instances of human trafficking…All of them respond to women’s needs by providing person-centred, holistic, and non-judgemental support…they listen, advise, intervene and refer women, as dictated by their individual needs…Despite this important work, sex worker organisations remain…vilified by the anti-trafficking community…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

How to prop up a massive and turgid conglomeration of myths, lies and ignorance: don’t talk to anyone who actually knows anything about the subject:

Ivanka Trump…host[ed] a roundtable at the White House…to discuss controversial sex trafficking legislation that has created a rift in the tech industry…Those attending the meeting include [only politicians and representatives of huge companies.  The politicians are only those]…pushing bills that would…[gut] Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which essentially gives internet platforms immunity from liability for content posted by third parties…cutting into Section 230 will damage the legal framework that allows for free speech online and hurt smaller internet companies by forcing them to pour resources into scouring their sites for [criminalized] content…

Elephant in the Parlor (#820)

I’m quite enjoying this whole saga:

[Stormy Daniels] offered…to return $130,000 she received from Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer in 2016 for agreeing not to discuss the alleged relationship.  In exchange…[she] seeks an end to her deal to keep quiet…she…would then be allowed to “(a) speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the President and the attempts to silence her and (b) use any publish any text messages, photos and/or videos…that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution and legal liability for damages”…The offer puts the president and [his lawyer]…in a challenging position.  If they agree…[Daniels] can speak openly about not only the sexual relationship…but also about…[the] “hush money”…If they reject the offer, they could be seen as effectively acknowledging the existence of a continuing effort to keep [Daniels] silent…

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Now is the moment for celebrities to give up the fantasy of saving “Jane Doe” and do the hard work of seeing and listening to people in the sex trades as fully formed, complex individuals who have actual names.  –  Alana Massey

Here We Go Again 

Here’s an interesting biography of Anthony Comstock, the deeply-deranged, self-loathing pervert behind the previous American crusade against “obscenity” and “pornography”.  Given that we’re currently deeply immersed in a very similar crusade (though driven this time by many pathological prudes rather than one), this two-year-old article might offer some insights which could prove useful…though I think it’s fascinating how moderns writing about such things (another example is “white slavery” hysteria) in smug or condemnatory tones never seem able to connect the Victorian campaigns to their modern counterparts.

Wise Investment 

Everyone harmed by prostitution laws needs to keep suing over them:

SWARM and ECP congratulate the three [UK] women who last week won in court the right not to reveal their criminal convictions for prostitution to prospective employers.  The women have multiple convictions for soliciting or loitering under the Street Offences Act, and their records will be amended to filter out these convictions…ECP and SWARM …[insist] that criminal records for prostitution should be fully expunged.  Under [this] court ruling the police will still have access to the information that someone has been convicted for soliciting…

Wise Investment (#428)

Evil laws and policies cause tremendous harm; here’s what happens when they’re repealed:

Increasing understanding of the mistakes of the past—and the violent impacts of taking action based on moral or ideological assumptions about sex workers and their lives—has changed the way sex work is viewed and monitored in Vancouver…police created a sex work enforcement guidelines policy, which clearly stated that adult consensual sex work would no longer be a priority…The City of Vancouver also adopted a policy of non-enforcement through their sex work response guidelines, which states explicitly that sex work is not a bylaw violation…The net result…has been de facto decriminalization of sex work in the city of Vancouver…Not only are crimes against sex workers being reported more often…but…there have been no murders of sex workers in Vancouver since 2009…

The Puritan Recrudescence

Though the silly notion that ejaculation saps a man’s vitality is a very old one, the even sillier “porn as abuse” belief is of recent vintage:

The [manager of the] Kansas City Royals [forced players to attend] a [propaganda session] for minor-league players…[organized by] anti-porn group “Fight the New Drug“…[which pretends] it is not religiously affiliated…general manager Dayton Moore is [obsessed with] the issue, and [though] the [supposed] goal is for players to be zeroed in on their performance for games…Moore [has in the past vomited out a lot of nonsense to reporters such as]…“pornography…what that does to the minds of players and the distractions, and how that leads to…abuse of women”…

The notion that healthy, physically-active young men can simply be ordered to be asexual was first imposed on the military by politicians, but now appears to be spreading.

Agony Aunt (#666) 

“Dear Prudence” gives good advice to a gay man whose lover has a sugar mama:

You don’t seem to have much of an issue with the arrangement qua arrangement if you’ve met her several times, enjoyed her company, and taken money from her yourself.  Your jealousy isn’t centered around the connection your boyfriend shares with his patron; it’s that his job requires significant emotional and romantic output on his part, and you want to make some space in your relationship where the two of you connect on a romantic rather than a merely domestic level…it’s very much worth talking about, especially if you make it clear that you’re not trying to discourage him from continuing with his patronage and that you support his work…

Pyrrhic Victory (#691) 

When it comes to mass surveillance, fascism beats communism hands down:

After the prosecution of a California doctor revealed the FBI’s ties to a Best Buy Geek Squad computer repair facility in Kentucky, new documents released to EFF show that the relationship goes back years.  The records also confirm that the FBI has paid Geek Squad employees as informants…The relationship potentially circumvents computer owners’ Fourth Amendment rights.  The documents…show that Best Buy officials have enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the agency for at least 10 years…Geek Squad employees were financially rewarded for finding child pornography.  Such a bounty would likely encourage Geek Squad employees to actively sweep for suspicious content…

Elephant in the Parlor (#815)  

Powerful men never learn that whores aren’t afraid of them:

…Trump’s lawyer is trying to silence adult-film star Stormy Daniels, obtaining a secret restraining order in a private arbitration proceeding and warning that she will face penalties if she publicly discusses a relationship with the president…The new pressure on Daniels…comes a day after she filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court alleging that a nondisclosure agreement she made to keep quiet about an “intimate” relationship with Trump is invalid because he never signed it…[the] lawsuit says that Trump attorney Michael Cohen — who brokered the agreement…during the presidential campaign — attempted to “intimidate” [Daniels] and “shut her up” by initiating what it calls a “bogus arbitration proceeding” against her in Los Angeles on Feb. 27…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Teen Vogue and now Allure…it’s so heartening to see so many women’s fashion & beauty magazines recognizing that they owe their very existence to whores, and speaking up:

…FOSTA…[and] SESTA …target websites…that enable people in the sex trades to do their work safely and independently…[in a celeb-heavy PSA with Seth Meyers, Amy Schumer, and others] Schumer calls [Section 230] a “stupid loophole” [in the Communications  Decency Act]…Both those in the sex trade and those with any understanding of free online expression consider this so-called “stupid loophole” a “core pillar of Internet freedom” and the “most important law in Internet history.” The bills that would alter it have been roundly condemned by advocates for trafficking victims and survivors of trafficking, as well as by those willingly in the industry who would be at greater risk for exploitation in the absence of online platforms that allow them to share information…the PSA [is]…based [on]…the premise…that right this second and in your own hometown, it is totally possible to go online and buy a child for sexual slavery — that it’s “as easy as ordering a pizza,” according to Schumer.  I put this claim to the test…via a set of searches on Backpage that have likely landed me on an FBI watch list.  Not one lousy “kid”, “minor”, “teen”, or “child” was available for purchase.  Meanwhile, Domino’s is at my house within 21 minutes of me placing an order…It is almost as if perpetrators of human trafficking aren’t really all that likely to advertise using photos of shackled minors…

Morality Lessons (#819) 

Moral panic + censorship = profit:

Rhode Island has joined a host of other states in considering an irrational measure to regulate online porn by charging consumers a $20 access fee.  But the Rhode Island bill actually beats others like it in terrible and unconstitutional requirements…the Rhode Island bill wouldn’t just block overtly sexual content but anything deemed “patently offensive,” too–even though there’s no clear definition of this term…It would also require devices to automatically block “any hub that facilitates prostitution”—again, not a legal or well-defined category of content…device makers would also have to “ensure that all child pornography and revenge pornography is inaccessible” on their products…If it were that easy to stop the spread of child porn, companies would be doing it already…

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[Censorship] filter deactivation…would be a frightening form of thought-based surveillance.  –  Camille Fischer

Worse Than I Thought

It’s nice to have the Mouse on the side of right for a change:

Florida lawmakers made headlines last month with a proposal to let people sexually exploited in hotel rooms sue the hotel where the abuse took place.  The bill would have imposed $50,000 to $100,000 in fines on defendants who lose, in addition to any money awarded to the victim…But…the bill’s sponsor yanked the legislation from current consideration…Disney and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association were reportedly lobbying against the bill behind the scenes…the outcome here is undoubtedly a good one.  Allowing the victims of sex trafficking to sue hotels…does nothing to prevent exploitation…or to punish those responsible for it.  It creates enormous incentives for fraud…It creates a new imperative for hotel staff to harass innocent customers and invade their privacy.  It ensures that sex workers will face more arrests…we don’t allow the families of people murdered in hotels to file such suits…And it paves the way for more third parties to be held legally liable for the actions of criminals…

Japanese Prostitution (#601) 

The Japanese government still denies it did this:

Documents and video footage have been found showing massacres of Korean comfort women by the Japanese military shortly before the end of World War II…the city of Seoul and the Seoul National University (SNU) Human Rights Center made public for the first time footage of the aftermath of a massacre of Korean comfort women…This footage flatly contradicts the Japanese government’s denial of the forced mobilization and massacre of the comfort women.  The footage shows a Chinese soldier, apparently on a burial detail, looking at naked corpses and then removing the socks off one of them.  Smoke is rising from one corner of the frame…“It’s blurred out in the version for public release, but the original footage shows corpses missing heads and other body parts, allowing us to infer the cruelty of the events in question,” the research team said…

Bottleneck (#638)

Welcome to our world, ridesharing companies:

This local CBS report from the Windy City asks the worrying question of whether or not traffic congestion is getting worse in their city and if ride-hailing services might be to blame…If a new cab company opened up, purchased a thousand new cars, painted them up and put them on the road, you’d have a thousand new cars hanging around downtown, clustering near common pick-up areas and just cruising.  That would increase traffic.  But Uber drivers use their own vehicles which were already on the road before they started driving for the company.  And they don’t wait around by hotels or train stations.  They pick a central location and park, waiting for the app to offer them a rider…cruising around would waste gas and cut into their bottom line… We rarely heard any of these “traffic congestion” complaints before except for some occasional griping, but look what other items popped up, all in the space of a couple of weeks…if someone wanted to do some digging I’d wager the National Taxi Worker Alliance and state level lobbyist groups like the Virginia Taxicab Association would be good places to start…

Finding What Isn’t There (#778)

The actual number of people arrested (not tried or convicted) for “human trafficking” in Louisiana during this period: 16.

New numbers recently released by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services showed an overall 50 percent increase in human trafficking in the state from 2016 to 2017.  For victims under 18, there was a 77 percent reported jump.  According to the report, there were 681 human trafficking victims in the state in 2017.  Of those victims, over half (356) were under 18.  DCFS…gets the numbers from agencies across the state and more agencies are now reporting, so it is worth noting that’s a possible cause for the increase…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#795) 

Are there still people who believe the French are sexually liberal?

A group of French lawmakers wants a fine of at least 90 euros ($110) for people caught making sexist catcalls as President Emmanuel Macron’s government prepares a sweeping new law targeting sexual [behavior]…proposals…included a fine for “comments, behavior or pressure of a sexist or sexual character” that [cops decide to label] degrading, humiliating, intimidating, hostile or offensive.  Details of how it would be enforced are unclear…

Stalkers in Blue 

I have no doubt that had her kids been absent, this would’ve turned into a rape:

…Patricia Wilson…says [a Tennessee state] trooper, Isaiah Lloyd, pulled her over for not wearing a seat belt in August last year, according to a lawsuit…Lloyd asked her to get out of her car and lift up her camisole and shirt, then felt around her waistline…put his hands in her underwear and touched her buttock and pubic area.  Lloyd ticketed Wilson for not wearing a seat belt — a…violation the DA’s office later dismissed — and she continued on to work…Three hours later, Lloyd pulled her over again, as Wilson’s children — 3 and 8 years old — were in the vehicle.  “We have to stop meeting like this,” Lloyd allegedly said.  He also said he would not give her a ticket for having tinted windows and asked her where she was going…

Not So Easy

New Orleans club owners cover their arses by throwing dancers under the bus:

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol & Tobacco Control has released details of the consent orders reached with nine French Quarter strip clubs after January raids…mandatory [indoctrination] will include twice-yearly sessions…[of sex] trafficking [propaganda even though]…ATC officials have acknowledged there were no human trafficking-related arrests in their raids…The clubs must also begin using “mystery shoppers” to check in on the businesses once a month…to see if any illegal activity is taking place…[surveillance] cameras must also be installed in all public areas, VIP rooms, private rooms and stages.  Recordings from these cameras must be kept for 30 days and “made available to ATC immediately upon request”…the business[es are required] to fire employees or independent contractors [cops decide to accuse of] prostitution or drug sales…Hustler Barely Legal Club and Hunk Oasis, both owned by the same ownership group…are [also] required to [search] the bags of employees, dancers and entertainers at the start of their shift.  They are also required to hire additional [thugs] to “regularly patrol the floor and VIP areas”…

Morality Lessons (#811) 

Moral panic + censorship = profit:

More than 15 state legislatures are considering the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act” (HTPA)…a…[censorship] bill…[which] would…threaten your free speech and privacy in [an]…attempt to block and tax online pornography.  EFF opposed versions of this bill in over a dozen states last year, and the bill failed in all of them.  Now HTPA is back…Device manufacturers would be forced to install “obscenity filters” on cell phones, tablets, computers, and any other Internet-connected devices.  [The censorship software] could only be removed if consumers pay a $20 fee…allow[ing] the government to intrude into consumers’ private lives and restrict their control over their own devices…HTPA…has been introduced in…Hawaii…Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey…New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee…Virginia, West Virginia…and Wyoming…the bill has died in committees in Mississippi and Virginia…[and] senators in New Mexico…pulled back the bill days after EFF raised the alarm…

The Mote and the Beam (#818)

Monkey see, monkey do:

The [UK] National Crime Agency (NCA) claims Google and Facebook are “making profits” from sex trafficking…Ministers are reportedly considering new laws to make internet giants liable when human traffickers use their sites to “pimp” their victims to potential clients…New US laws are set to overturn more than 20 years of blanket immunity for sites.  It will make firms liable if they “knowingly assist, support or facilitate” content that leads to trafficking…

Maybe someone should tell the UK media that these laws aren’t even passed, much less “set” to do anything.

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If the benefits, and responsibilities, of adulthood keep getting deferred, is it any wonder kids have a hard time growing up?  –  Karol Markowicz

Dysphemisms Galore 

In normal adult language, they ran an ordinary escort service like I did:

A [San Francisco Bay area] woman who is accused of running a 150-woman prostitution ring with her son is also a prolific author of feminist erotica…Fay Ruth Romesburg, is accused of working with her son David Scott Romesburg…to lure women into sex work and then arranging appointments for them at three properties…Romesburg said she is “deeply concerned with female sexual empowerment” and referred to laws against sex work as a “continued assault on women’s rights…We need to stop treating these women as victims,” she said of sex workers…”They are highly intelligent and educated”…

Still a Child 

It’s a pity so few Americans can see this:

…for a long time, 18 meant the start of official adulthood in America…suggestions of raising the age for gun purchases came during the same week that the…forceful outpouring of civic engagement by Stoneman Douglas High School students led commentators to argue that the voting age should be lowered to 16…We send mixed messages about when adulthood begins and what will be expected once it arrives…Allan Metcalf notes that “until the teen age was invented, that was the goal of children: to become adult as soon as possible, to escape the limitations of childhood.”  But somewhere along the way, we came up with this middle ground and, to our detriment, this middle ground is [pretended to be] the brightest, happiest time…Then 18 rolls around…An 18-year-old can vote or join the military but not buy beer or, in some states like New York, cigarettes…On the other hand: When they commit a crime, we try juveniles as young as 13 as adults even though we know their cognitive abilities aren’t mature…a Pew Research study last year found that kids are living at home longer than ever before.  They can stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26…

If Men Were Angels 

A secondary evil made possible by drug prohibition:

Christopher Bathum managed to build an empire in California’s lucrative addiction treatment industry despite the fact that he held no license in drug counseling and no college degree.  The self-described “Rehab Mogul” founded…a chain of about 20 facilities in Southern California and Colorado…Bathum presented himself as a trusted confidant and mentor to his patients – particularly to young, broken women wrestling with addiction.  He made numerous, vulnerable young women feel special, showering them with “internships” and access to company cars and iPhones…But he also used their weaknesses…to lure the women with drugs, get them high, and then sexually assault them…Bathum was convicted of sexually assaulting seven women…and…now faces up to 65 years in state prison when he is sentenced in April…

Above the Law (#615)

25 years would be satisfactory, if it were given to every single rapist cop:

Two Los Angeles [cops] pleaded no contest…to [raping] multiple women, often preying on victims while one partner served as the lookout as the other carried out an attack in their unmarked police car…[rapist pigs] Luis Valenzuela and James C. Nichols entered their no-contest pleas to two counts each of forcible rape and two counts each of…oral [rape]. The [rapists] appeared in court in orange, jail-issued jumpsuits and were shackled at the waist…The judge also ordered the [rapist pigs] to register as sex offenders…

The Prudish Giant (#703) 

Facebook can’t even follow its own “standards”:

…The latest work deemed “pornographic” is the 30,000 year-old nude statue famously known as the Venus of Willendorf…An image of the work posted on Facebook by Laura Ghianda…was removed as inappropriate content despite four attempts to appeal the decision…A case on Facebook’s censorship of art was heard in a Paris court earlier this month.  Frédéric Durand-Baïssas, a French teacher, has been trying to sue the social media giant since 2011 for closing his account after he posted a photograph of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting L’Origine du Monde…Despite Facebook changing its policy on nudity to allow “photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures”, instances of art censorship persist…

Guinea Pigs (#719) 

Palantir is the same company which is helping cops spy on sex workers, and gave California cops a facial recognition database of black and Latino men:

According to Ronal Serpas, the [former NOPD] chief…one of the tools used by the New Orleans Police Department to identify members of gangs like 3NG and the 39ers came from the Silicon Valley company Palantir.  The company provided software to a secretive NOPD program that traced people’s ties to other gang members, outlined criminal histories, analyzed social media, and predicted the likelihood that individuals would commit violence or become a victim…[trials using the data as evidence] made no mention of the NOPD’s partnership with Palantir…[which] began in 2012…Palantir Technologies…[was] founded with seed money from the CIA…

Absolute Corruption (#758)

Readers who are still around in 2040 can expect a series of exonerations of victims of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

A judge has dismissed charges against two men who were convicted in the death of a woman as part of a “Satanic ritual” more than 25 years ago…Judge Bruce Butler dismissed the charges against Jeffrey Clark and Keith Hardin…[who] were convicted of killing Rhonda Warford in 1992 as part of a Satanic ritual, and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.  New DNA evidence and accusations that [pigs maliciously and intentionally] framed the pair led the Kentucky Supreme Court to vacate the convictions.  After special prosecutor Jon Heck chose not to pursue a new trial, this was the final step…

The Mote and the Beam (#798)

Authoritarianism is its own reason for existence:

…the House voted both on Rep. Mimi Walters’ bad amendment to attach SESTA to FOSTA, and then on the combined bill — and both sailed through Congress…even though the Justice Department weighed in with a last minute letter saying that the language in the combined SESTA/FOSTA is so poorly drafted that it would actually make it more difficult to prosecute sex traffickers, and also calling into question whether or not the bill was even Constitutional…the combined (terrible) bill sailed through the whole House 388 to 25.  Kudos to the 25 Representatives who actually understand how CDA 230 works and why this bill is so bad, but it’s depressing to think that it was just 25…

Decentralization (#813) 

I’ll start accepting bitcoin for donations (not services) as soon as someone shows me how to exchange it freely for stuff I actually need:

An adult entertainment venue in Las Vegas will enable its dancers to get payments from clients directly via bitcoin transfers.  The use of the cryptocurrency is primarily used as a privacy-enhancing measure as well as an attraction for affluent bitcoin investors.  Vistors to the Legends Room can use the…bitcoin ATM to buy cryptocurrency at the club.  The dancers can choose to wear temporary QR tattoos as wallet addresses that can be scanned on a smartphone.  Besides the privacy concerns of the patrons, the use of bitcoin allows the dancers to avoid explaining to banks where they get large amounts of cash…

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All logic and reason supports the notion that decriminalization…would serve society better than continuing to force the industry to operate in black markets.  –  Gill Sperlein

Bad Girls 

How to be a stupid, greedy whore:

Two women have been arrested and charged by the Guardia Civil for blackmail and threatening behaviour after they extracted over 90,000 euros from a [Spanish]…man [who] paid one of the women…for sex…she [then began] threatening…[to tell] his wife…he is understood to have given the woman two cars and over 90,000 euros in cash…[before he] finally chose to denounce the situation to the San Miguel Guardia Civil…

Whore Madonnas 

A former sex worker has written a children’s book:

As I started pursuing courses in sociology and anthropology, I started thinking more about representation, and how I knew all these women who were sex workers and mothers, but they were hardly ever represented in popular culture…even self- proclaimed progressive people think that sex work is antithetical to having children.  Or that if we do have children, our work is so reprehensible that we should protect our children from knowledge of it.  And this has really harmful consequences for sex workers and for their kids…So, I wanted to provide better images of sex workers who are also mamas.  That was the main inspiration behind How Mamas Love Their Babies.  I could have written a book specifically about a mama who is a sex worker, I suppose.  But instead, I decided to show sex working mothers as one of the many kinds of working mothers…

Lack of Evidence

Think anti-whore policies don’t affect you?  Think again:

A New Jersey man is now on the hook for promoting prostitution after buying multiple gift cards from a CVS Pharmacy…Craig Nakonechny had “repeatedly” entered and exited the store and ultimately purchased several gift cards.  This was somehow enough to trigger a call to the police (it’s not clear from whom) and a visit from Officer Anthony Gardner.  When Gardner arrived, Nakonechny’s car was still parked in the CVS parking lot and he was seated inside…Then Nakonechny—who has done nothing thus far except purchase several gift cards from CVS and return to his car—allegedly just offered up the fact that he planned to take the gift cards and exchange them directly for sex…it’s hard to buy someone basically blurting out to a cop, “hey, I’m going to take this totally mundane purchase here and use it to engage in illegal activity!”…this wouldn’t be the first time Gardner has gone after someone on dubious premises.  In 2016, the city settled for $60,000 in a false arrest and excessive force suit  stemming from a traffic stop by Gardner in 2012…

The Mote and the Beam

The “progressive” New York Times publishes a racist, police-state-worshiping op-ed from Jeff Sessions’ henchman.  But please, tell me how the two political parties are completely different:

Too many cities in the United States are infested with criminal gangs.  In 2015, the F.B.I. estimated that more than one million members of approximately 33,000 gangs prey upon American neighborhoods.  The gangs have one thing in common: They commit violent crimes that terrorize our communities.  And gangs increasingly rely on sex trafficking to support themselves…President Trump has declared this National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month…The F.B.I. leads the Justice Department’s law enforcement efforts against human trafficking, with support from trafficking prosecutors and coordinators from our program to fight child pornography…

Whither Canada? (#729)

Edmonton has a long history of abusing & dehumanizing sex workers:

Edmonton [Alberta] police say they will broaden their use of social media as part of an “aggressive'” online campaign to [harass sex workers]…Being lured into the sex trade [by magical ninja pimps with mind-control powers] can happen to anyone, said [prohibitionist] Amy Wilson…[pig mouthpiece Scott] Pattison [ludicrously oinked that pigs lying to women is]…”about building…trust with workers in an effort to keep them safe”…Wilson said [women are so stupid they can’t book travel themselves, so] a high number of out-of-province sex workers could be an indication of a possible human trafficking network in the province, where pimps try to disorient women by sending them from one place to the next…

The End of the Beginning (#740) 

Perhaps we may soon see the end of the egregious lie that the “sex offender” registry isn’t a punishment:

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to a recent state court ruling that determined part of Pennsylvania’s sex offender registration law was unconstitutional.  The high court denied a petition from the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office to review a July decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that found the state’s current sex offender registration law was punishment and thus could not be imposed retroactively…

First They Came for the Hookers… (#785) 

Just in case you think being a “legal” sex worker protects you:

New Orleans police and state officials suspended the alcohol permits of four French Quarter strip clubs after raids…found “multiple violations,” officials [claimed]…But…an advocacy organization for those working at the clubs said the operation was a waste of resources that put employees in jeopardy and forced them to undress in front of male officers…Officials suspended the permits of Dixie Divas on Iberville Street and Temptations, Scores and Rick’s Sports Bar on Bourbon Street…The raids were condemned Saturday by Michelle Rutherford, a civil rights lawyer working with the Bourbon Association of Responsible Entertainers…“It’s unfortunate that sensationalized claims of sex trafficking in the clubs have turned NOPD and the ATC into political pawns,” Rutherford said in an email.  “As with prior raids, not a single trafficking victim was uncovered”…during the raid, [cops] put employees at risk by reading out their full names in front of customers as the workers provided their identification…male [cops leered at dancers]…in the dressing room as the women changed, despite loud protests from the women…[cops also] made several derogatory references suggesting all the dancers were drug users…

Full of Themselves (#807) 

When the word “illicit” is used to describe sex, you can safely assume you’re reading prohibitionist propaganda:

Hundreds of illicit massage parlors in our area are involved in human trafficking, according to a new report…[from the anti-sex worker group] Polaris…The report [fantasizes] that more than 9,000 illicit massage parlors…are actually fronts for human trafficking…and [are] creating a total revenue of approximately $2.5 billion a year.  Of the 9,000 businesses, 700 are operating in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware…

Challenge (#807)

The next step in the ESPLERP challenge:

Counsel for the ESPLER Project have vowed to ask for a rehearing in an appellate case decided last week that upheld the constitutionality of California’s prostitution statute.  The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected the contention that states are precluded from criminalizing prostitution based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas…ESPLER Project…will be filing a request for rehearing en banc, or in front of the full court, by its deadline, Thursday, Feb. 1…

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